The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico held their first full Senate meeting of the semester on Wednesday, Aug. 30 and discussed ways to improve voter turnout and available mental health services for students.
ASUNM represents the student body by being the first group the University’s President, Provost and Board of Regents consult when they want to hear undergraduate feedback, according to the ASUNM elections commission website.
“ASUNM operates and lobbies on behalf of UNM students at the NM state legislature and collaborates to decide where student fees go,” Krystah Pacheco, the current president of ASUNM, said.
The executive director of the Elections Commission, Jaime Garcia, and Pacheco are in discussion of re-proposing legislation to combine the presidential and vice presidential elections in the spring – no legislation on this topic has been submitted yet, to the Steering and Rules committee.
“The reason why we’re revisiting this legislation is to improve voter turnout,” Pacheco said.
Looking at previous elections, around 3.5% total undergraduate students voted in the presidential and vice presidential election.
“To be quite honest, that’s really not representative of the student body,” Pacheco said. “I think it’s our job and it’s in the best interests of students to revisit how we’re looking at advertising our election and working on improving voter turnout to make sure that we’re the best representative of students.”
The Senate also discussed the recent administrative priorities the University brought forward at the last Board of Regents meeting,, via Legislative Research and Public Service Project funding requests. Amongst others, the Regents approved a funding request for a new peer mentorship program for rural students.
“The idea is that first-year rural students can get access to a mentor who’s a third or fourth-year student from a rural area. There’s current programs here at the University, but we really want to extend it to other students from the state and from the country,” Pacheco said.
Another RPSP request discussed was for Student Health and Counse-
ling, requested to increase access to mental health care and support basic needs for students.
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“These are just requests. Funding has not been secured, but these are priorities from the University for 2023,” Pacheco said.
In discussion of mental health resources Pacheco mentioned the Univeristy’s partnership with TimelyCare to offer students free access to virtual mental health, medical
care and basic needs support.
“You get up to 12 appointments for mental health counseling. You also get basic needs assistance. There’s health coaching,’’ Pacheco said.
The Director of the Agora Crisis Center, Daise Kent, also spoke at the meeting to bring attention to the resources they provide.
Agora provides crisis intervention services, peer support and workshops. All services are free and confidential for students in need of emotional support.
“We are a warmline and a crisis line, and I say both of those things because there’s a little bit of a distinction,” Kent said. “We adopted the term warmline because you don’t have to be in crisis to talk to us.”
Agora Crisis Center offers volunteer opportunities for undergraduate students looking for experience or ways to explore careers. Classes are offered three times a year, expanding into fall, spring and summer with 40 hours of training.
“We really want our volunteers to feel confident before they’re on the phones,” Kent said. “Our trainings cover communication skills to suicide awareness and intervention – how to do that on the phones.”
The full senate meets again on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Full senate meetings are open to public comment.
Milan Ortiz-Ruiz is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Milan Ortiz-Ruiz is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @ milanortiz_or